sustainability through science & innovation

cocoa pod borer

Basic research on the cocoa pod borer in Papua New Guinea to permit effective pest management

Project partners: NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Sydney, University of Stellenbosch, South African Sugarcane Research Institute, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Papua New Guinea Cocoa Board

Funding body: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

The cocoa pod borer (CPB), Conopomorpha cramerella, is widely distributed and indigenous to South-East Asia and the Western Pacific and is a pest of cocoa and other tropical fruits including rambutan. The threat CPB poses to cocoa farming is one of the main concerns for Papua New Guinea (PNG) cocoa farmers (which is largely made up of smallholder farmers and some plantations); the Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea lists mitigation of this pest as a priority area for the cocoa industry. In PNG, cocoa production represents 17% of agricultural revenue, or approximately US$95–114 million per annum and produces up to 9% of the world’s fine- flavoured cocoa.

In PNG, CPB was not considered a pest until 2006, following an outbreak in East New Britain Province. A range of management techniques have been developed to combat this pest, however there still remains a lack of understanding around the biology, behaviour and ecology of the pest.

This project is addressing several gaps in the knowledge surrounding this pest including i) resolving whether CPB is part of a species complex or if there are several biotypes/races, and ii) developing an artificial diet that will enable the insect to be cultured, offering the ability for this pest to be studied in bioassays; as well as the potential for the development of the sterile insect technique (SIT) to manage this pest.

A highly‐experienced team of researchers and industry professionals are working with growers and relevant stakeholders in PNG to capture information, develop diagnostics and produce evidence‐based results that will underpin future studies of this pest.

For further information email Dr Olivia Reynolds at


The project's field team heading out to collect cocoa pods and samples of CPB for dietary analysis (Image credit: Olivia Reynolds).